The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

Vigilantes in Love

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Dear Kathryn,

I have the feeling that folks are going to be upset today – too many loose ends tied up, too neat an ending.  But as I noted last week, if they tied it all up using Deb’s acting skills, I thought it would probably work – and I think it did.  In the end, what we learned was that the central love story of the season was never Dex and Lumen.  It was always Deb and Quinn.  And while Lumen couldn’t redeem Dexter, the love she momentarily shared with him, in effect, did redeem Debra.  That Lumen survived was a miracle.  And that Dex could love her in that survival mode was too a gift.  A miracle and gift that promised Deb her own healing from Ice-Truck Killer Rudy’s assault of her, and the ability to put her trust in with and take the plunge with Quinn.  And seeing as I’ve never been a Deb or Quinn hater, I’m pretty psyched about that move!

When Jordan started spouting off about how you can’t save one thing to make up for another – that that’s not how the world works – he got my mind a puzzling.  This show plays with theological themes in such interesting ways…always warping and twisting images and tropes from the Christian religion (Trinity, Christ images, sacrificial images, cruciformed bodies and innocent babes) in ways that inspire intellectual curiosity and pondering much more than they inspire any type of faith.  And so as Jordan’s statement fully undercut the central theme of Christian faith – that one life saved can save another – I was perfectly ready to accept that as the dogma of the show.

I found myself shocked at the end when Dex put his spin on it – yes you can.  That’s we do.  We try to make up for things by doing them over aright.  Indeed, that’s what this season was all about, I think – do-overs.  And LaGuerta might have put it best – that might be faith, or it’s simply whatever you want to call it.

These do-overs really held my attention this season – making me convinced that this was the last one (I’m so glad it’s not).  Aside from Lumen doing the do-over for Rita, we also had the connection between Deb (with Rudy) and the 13 girls, Quinn then able to take Rudy’s place, and then Dexter helping Quinn offered a do-over reconciliation for what transpired in season 2 with Doakes.  Even LaGuerta and Angel got in on it with their own declaration of starting from the beginning.

And I think that’s what Jordan Chase missed – the do-overs from old traumas can’t just repeat the trauma.  That was Jordan’s mistake.  That’s Dexter’s mistake too.  The do-overs need to transform something.  They need to affect a change.  They have the power to heal if they’re not mere repetition.  It’s what makes the difference between repetition and transformation that this season leaves me wondering, though.

These stories try to press the idea that somehow it comes down to the willingness to change, but also the willingness to be changed by others.  It comes in trust and human connection – being willing to see another for who they are, and have them see you too.  But if that’s the case, when will Dex find his healing?  Sure he’s transformed, changed, found new levels of humanity he didn’t know he had.  But is it possible for him to lose the dark passenger?  Or is his only chance at redemption his ability to carry the dark passengers of others?

Because I’m not really convinced that’s redemption.  It was the only part of the episode I thought was dumb – he doesn’t need to carry Lumen’s passenger.  She actually seemed quite fine.  She’d lost it – he didn’t need to take it.  And I’m curious, in fact, to know what you thought of that? I was right there with them until the end-note to his good-bye speech.  Maybe I’m just a softie, but I’m tired of this idea that we all need to accept that that’s just who Dexter is.  He’s grown so much over these seasons, I’d like to see him tackle the whole not killing thing.  I think that could be interesting.  Maybe he just needed to have his killer recognized before he could entertain letting it go – I just don’t know.

I’m excited to hear your thoughts!  I’m surprised that I’m bummed Lumen’s leaving.  I don’t really like Stiles as an actress, but I like what her character did for Dexter.  She brought something radically fresh to the show.  And I’m left with the lingering feeling that Deb will make the connection between the same killing style on Liddy as what she saw with Jordan’s body.  The loss of any evidence would surely make her second guess her own willingness to live into complexity…and that could make for a great sub-plot for next season – Deb running down hunches that have no material basis as far as anyone else is concerned.

wondering what Emily Post would have to say about kill-room etiquette,
Natalie

—-

Dear Natalie,

OK, so you know about my DVR debacle. I had to wait for the finale to show up on Showtime On Demand, and then what with a sick baby and all, I just finished watching now. And I have to say, that was not the finale I was expecting. Not so much even because they wrapped things up, as much as because every lead I thought we were following to a dramatic ending was curtailed by a much more manageable end. Do you think that maybe they did think this would be the last season (or they weren’t sure) and so they were setting us up for some huge dramatic, blood soaked finale where Deb realizes the truth about Dex or something like that? Maybe they were at least preparing for this possibility. Then when the show was renewed they had to reverse course and come up with another kind of ending, the convenient opaque sheeting plastic obscuring the real revelation. I’m not really sure at all how things could go on if Deb really learned the truth about Dex so I respect that they couldn’t go all the way. And perhaps this first step of understanding the drive for vigilantism was a way to prepare for her eventual knowledge, if that day ever comes.

I feel like I have to digress for a moment though, and ponder what in the world Deb meant when she said to Dex “you must be feeling better now that this is all over.” What is “this” that she was referring to? And didn’t it seem like a loaded glance and a baffled look on Dex’s part? I know there is absolutely no way Deb could suspect him of being the vigilante (nothing has suggested this so far) and surely Dex would have pondered it in his monologue, but it still made both me and my husband sit up and go WTF?! Maybe it was just coming on the heels of Quinn and Dex’s knowing exchange… Of course, since Quinn definitely knows something shady was going down with Dex (presumably he knows Dex is Liddy’s killer, right?) what is that going to mean in the coming seasons?

But to the main point – I love your analysis of do-overs. I think you totally nailed it. There were so many chances for healing in the repetition and transformation of trauma. And all of it was kind of miraculous. Like you, though, the one do-over I really started to believe was Dex’s chance to move beyond his absolute dependence on the dark passenger. The thing is, I think he had moved beyond it. He found in Lumen a substitute for his absolute need to kill. Whereas most of his emotional/psychic life has previously been tied up in hunting down and killing his victims, it has been poured into Lumen this season. He has hunted and killed for her. He has even given the killing over to her. I have to admit, twisted as it was, I loved Lumen’s apology when she killed Jordan – “I know that is not the way you’re supposed to do it.” It was perhaps the most tender and honest acknowledgment of who he is – the most sincere acceptance of his rituals and his dark needs even as she disregarded them in her blinding passion. He didn’t need his ritual in that moment, he needed Lumen. Which might be why he seemed most like a young boy again when he came bounding into the apartment bearing Bisquick and OJ. So eager to show love for the first time, so uninhibited in his emotions, so effortlessly making a human connection. All of this is real. It is part of who Dex is. Which means he has already proven that he is not just a killer, that he has normal human emotion. I get that he had to make the dark speech at the end about how he is not like anyone else, but it seemed forced and faked in a new way since we have seen differently all season. Like you, I hope they play with that difference and let us see Dexter start experimenting with the part of him Lumen revealed.

As much so, I hope we get to see Deb live into the new complexity of life she has discovered. Here is to Deb, her filthy mouth and her vulnerable heart. Lord knows that woman deserves to be happy. At least in between seasons.

It has been so fun blogging through another season with you. Did you see that Big Love will be back in January?

Kathryn

5 Responses

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  1. Really great analysis of the whole season, especially the theme of the do over. There’s a whole other level to this as well. Jordan Chase kept doing Emily over and over again, but in a destructive way, leading to the death of the ten girls. And of course 13 was very unlucky for him and his compatriots, so that was kind of neat. And for a motivational speaker whose message was how to get unstuck, the irony was that he was stuck in the same place (literally and figuratively) with his high school friends and not going anywhere.

    gordbrown

    December 12, 2010 at 11:51 pm

  2. Sorry, meant to say twelve girls.

    gordbrown

    December 12, 2010 at 11:52 pm

  3. It’s funny that you chose a picture of Dexter and Quinn with that title. 🙂

    Anyway, I was a bit put off by how neatly the season came to a close – I rather like loose ends. I also was frustrated by Dexter’s refusal to change and refusal to realize that he has and can change.

    We’ll see what happens next year!

    victoria winters

    December 13, 2010 at 9:34 am

    • Ha, that was sort of on purpose! I hear what you’re saying about loose ends – but I think this show is pretty intentional about not leaving them (think of how Dexter had to tie it up way too neatly by killing Lila at the end of season 2. Even Rita’s death was a horrific version of balancing the scales at the end of last season). I think part of that is an intentional way of saying that the complexity doesn’t come in the ending – the complexity happens within the story. Something in me grates against that – but on the other hand, the need for “loose ends” seems to have become the only way to have “real-life” seeming cred on a tv show or film. There’s something in the way Dexter bucks that trend that really appeals to me. It almost allows for *more* internal complexity (as Deb and Maria kept reminding us).

      themothchase

      December 13, 2010 at 10:59 am

  4. Interesting point.

    victoria winters

    December 13, 2010 at 1:18 pm


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